World’s MOST transmissible Covid-19 strain is detected in Australia – with worrying trends suggesting it will be even more infectious and deadly than the Indian Delta variant
- The ‘Lambda’ variant has bene detected in traveller in hotel quarantine in NSW
- Originating in Peru, variant accounts for almost 81% of country’s Covid-19 cases
- The ‘Concerning’ strain has spread to over 30 countries in four weeks
- World Health Organization has listed Lambda as a ‘variant of interest’
A new Covid-19 strain has hit Australian shores amid increasing concerns it is more infectious than the Delta variant.
The Lambda strain has caught the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO) after it rapidly spread to more than 30 countries in the past four weeks.
Originating in Peru, the lethal strain accounts for almost 81 per cent of the country’s cases since April, as the nation records the highest Covid mortality rates in the world.
The Lambda variant was detected in a traveller undergoing hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to the national genomics database AusTrakka.
The strain was marked as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organisation on June 14 due to the strain’s high transmissibility and its ability to spread across multiple countries.
There is no current evidence to suggest the strain has spread among the community in Australia.
Medical personnel remove the corpse of a Covid-19 victim from Honorio Delgado Hospital in Arequipa, Peru where the Lambda variant accounts for almost 81 per cent of the country’s cases since April
Cayetano Heredia University Professor Pablo Tsukayama said the strain has ‘exploded’ in Peru, with the new variant responsible for 82 per cent of current cases.
In Peru, nearly 10 per cent of the infected recorded Lambda cases end up dying, with a death rate of nearly 600 for every 100,000 citizens, data has shown.
‘That would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than any other variant,’ Professor Tsukayama said.
London’s Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Welcome Sanger Institute backed up the findings.
‘Lambda has a unique pattern of seven mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells,’ Dr Jeffrey Barrett told the Financial Times.
‘Researchers are particularly intrigued by one mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation to contribute to the high infectiousness of the Delta variant.’
The strain was marked as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organisation on June 14 due to its high transmissibility (pictured, a woman getting the Pfizer vaccine in Sydney)
Public Health England made Lambda a ‘variant under investigation’ in June after six cases were detected in returned travellers.
Two new cases have since been detected in the UK, according to news.com.au.
The emergence of Lambda is a worrying sign for the UK, which recently relaxed Covid-19 restrictions after 37 million people received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The Lambda variant was first was detected in a traveller undergoing hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April
Chilean scientists who studied blood samples taken form health workers found the Lambda variant has a mutation called L452Q.
The mutation is similar to the L452R mutation in the Delta and Epsilon variants which researchers believe make it more infectious.
University of Queensland virologist Kirsty Short said more research was needed before classifying Lambda as more infectious than the Delta variant.
‘It’s very preliminary,’ said Dr Short told the ABC.
‘It’s a good starting point, but I certainly wouldn’t infer anything from that into the clinic.’